861.01/802: Telegram

The Chargé in China (Bell) to the Secretary of State

129. My 128, May 14, 5 p.m.

Yesterday Marshall, United Press correspondent here, received following telegram his agency via London office:

“Washington State Department, replying questions, admits intervened recent Russo-Chinese negotiations warning China recognition Soviet might [have] unpleasant consequences. Intervention due desire protect claims 6 to 8 million dollars American share reorganization Chinese Eastern Railway during Siberian expedition 1918.”

Subsequent to leakage of information that our note of May 3d had been sent and prior to receipt of the above telegram, I had shown Marshall our note for his guidance. Nevertheless, on receipt of above message he distributed latter to Chinese and foreign press without saying anything to me.
First sentence of message above quoted is misleading or contrary to fact in two particulars and places Legation and the Chinese Government in an embarrassing position.
Chinese Government has all along insisted contrary to Bolshe-Tik allegations that interruption of negotiations 6 weeks ago was not due to intervention of any foreign powers; while Legation has categorically denied similar allegations that American Minister endeavored to interrupt negotiations. Negotiations were suspended or dormant on May 3d when our note was sent but above message makes it appear that we actively attempted to arrest their progress. Moreover, the statement that we had warned China that recognition of Soviet might have unpleasant consequence is contrary to terms of note which was based on Department’s telegram 81, April 26, 6 p.m., and contained phrase, “Government of the United States has no desire to prevent the conclusion of a Sino-Russian Agreement.”
Legation and Foreign Office endeavoring to mitigate effect of first sentence of message, but I fear that Karakhan and Chinese opponents of Government will make capital of it.
Assuming that sentence in question is a misrepresentation of Department’s remarks, I request authority so to state publicly and also in my discretion, if Chinese Foreign Office agrees, to publish note, text of which I shall telegraph you if desired.
Further, I venture to suggest that the United Press be approached in regard to their handling of news. They are the only American agency selling a news service in China and the fact that they are able to do so is entirely due to the Department’s attitude in refusing to permit distribution gratis of radio news service from Cavite which if done would drive their service out of China. That our Government in these circumstances should be made to suffer by their errors or carelessness, is intolerable.
For the Minister: